Two men pleaded guilty to assault in a street brawl in May near the Turkish embassy in Washington during a visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the U.S. Justice Department said.
Sinan Narin, 45, of McLean, Virginia, and Eyup Yildirim, 50, of Manchester, New Jersey each pleaded guilty to one count of assault in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
Sentencing for the two is scheduled for March 15, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
Police said 11 people were injured, including a Washington police officer, during the brawl which Turkey blamed the violence on demonstrators linked to the militant Kurdistan Workers Party
Video captured Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (center) watching as his government security detail and several armed individuals violently clashed with protesters on Tuesday
At the time Turkey summoned the U.S ambassador to protest the treatment of Turkish security officials in the United States during a visit by President Tayyip Erdogan last week, the foreign ministry said.
A video had captured Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan watching as his government security detail and several armed individuals violently clashed with protesters.
The incident occurred outside the residence of the Turkish ambassador with the president watching for a few seconds before turning to go inside.
The video, recorded by Voice of America’s Turkish service, showed security forces brutally kicking and punching protesters before Erdogan emerges from a black Mercedes in the driveway to watch the incident.
It remains unclear if Erdogan communicated with the assailants while he was sitting in the car.
The protesters had gathered on Embassy Row in a peaceful dissent of the Turkish leader’s policies on a range of issues such as his government’s stance toward the Kurds and Armenians to his perceived assault on the country’s democratic institutions
He turns to head inside the Turkish ambassador’s residence but not before stopping to look back one last time.
Roughly two dozen protesters had gathered outside of the embassy in a peaceful protest of the Turkish leader’s policies on a range of issues such as his government’s stance toward the Kurds and Armenians to his perceived assault on the country’s democratic institutions.
Social media was ablaze with witnesses reporting on the chaotic scene, which occurred in the middle of rush hour traffic along stately Embassy Row.
The video showed two men bleeding from the head and men in dark suits punching and kicking protesters, some lying on the ground.
Washington’s police chief described the incident as a ‘brutal attack’ on peaceful protesters.
The U.S. State Department said in a statement the conduct of Turkish security personnel during the incident was ‘deeply disturbing.’ It confirmed the U.S. ambassador in Ankara had been summoned by the Turkish government to discuss the ‘violent incidents.’
The Turkish foreign ministry said it summoned the U.S. ambassador to protest ‘aggressive and unprofessional actions’ by U.S. security personnel to the security team of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Because the altercation took place in broad daylight, many wonder if the US will charge the security personnel and other Erdogan supporters involved in the attack – all of whom could potentially claim diplomatic immunity (Erdogan is pictured on Thursday in Istanbul)
‘It has been formally requested that the U.S. authorities conduct a full investigation of this diplomatic incident and provide the necessary explanation,’ the foreign ministry said in a statement.
It said that lapses of security experienced during Erdogan’s stay in Washington were caused ‘by the inability of U.S. authorities to take sufficient precautions at every stage of the official programme,’ adding that incidents would not overshadow what was otherwise a ‘very successful’ visit.
Washington voiced its strongest possible concern to Turkey over the brawl. U.S. Senator John McCain, one of the leading foreign policy voices in Congress, on Thursday called for the expulsion of Turkey’s U.S. ambassador.
Eleven people were injured, including a police officer, and nine were taken to a hospital, after men in suits brutally kicked and punched the protestors. Several of the attackers claimed diplomatic immunity
Erdogan turned away from the brawl and headed inside the Turkish ambassador’s residence but not before stopping to look back one last time
Erdogan was in Washington, DC to meet with President Donald Trump (pictured together on Tuesday), who praised him as a loyal ally in the battle against Islamic extremism. The White House has remained silent on the episode
The Turkish Embassy claimed on Wednesday that Erdogan’s bodyguards were acting in ‘self-defense’ during the incident and the protesters were affiliated with the terrorist group PKK.
But a protest leader denied that anyone involved had any ties or sympathies to the PKK.
‘We are communicating our concern to the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms,’ said Heather Nauert, a State Department spokeswoman.
Erdogan was in Washington, DC to meet with President Donald Trump, who praised him as a loyal ally in the battle against Islamic extremism.
The White House has remained silent on the episode, with White House press secretary Sean Spicer referring reporters to the State Department.